weekly organizing Tips

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Month: August, 2011

Back to School Time

It’s that time again. The Summer is coming to an end and the kids will soon head back to school. Back to school is about much more than buying new clothes and school supplies. It’s a time to think about the coming year and how you can create the best environment for yourself and your children to succeed in the next 10 months.

A morning routine is key. Routine is as important as a good night’s sleep. If you wake up every morning stresses out trying to get the kids fed, dressed, ready for the day and out the door it won’t be a good start for anyone. Take some time to think about your morning routine. Are there ways to simplify it: set out breakfast items the night before, have your children help make their own lunches if they’re old enough, set out clothes the night before etc. Discuss the routine with every family member so everyone knows what their responsibilities are for a successful start every morning.

Create a central location for homework. Consider your child’s needs, are they most productive at a table or desk or will a lap desk on the couch work better for them? Keep all of their supplies close: pencils, pens, markers, extra paper, etc. This will also be the place to keep incoming school papers, backpacks, lunch bags/boxes etc.

Create a command centre binder. This binder will hold any important papers from school or kids activities that you need to refer to all year long. This is also a good place to keep helpful information for yourself: notes from the teacher, tutor etc., study tools your kids will need through the year, flyers and pamphlets of upcoming activities, sports or hobby schedules etc. Also consider having a centralized family calendar in the binder or in a central location so everyone is privy to upcoming events (if your family is tech savvy I would highly recommend a family google calendar).

Enter dates on the calendar immediately. Whether you have a iphone/blackberry or a paper calendar enter all important dates as soon as your receive the info about them. Enter all important information about the event and then recycle the paper it came on. This will ensure you don’t miss any important events and you won’t hold onto unnecessary papers.

A tray for incoming papers. Papers never seem to stop during the school year. Whether it’s a permission slip, a report card, a note from the teacher, a test your child aced etc. there are daily papers you have to deal with. Set-up two trays in a central location, preferably near the designated homework area, one tray for papers you need to deal with immediately and one tray for papers that aren’t as time sensitive. Address the papers daily and you won’t miss important dates for your child and you won’t become overwhelmed by large piles. Teach your child to put their papers in the tray everyday, it is not your responsibility to dig through their backpack every night.

Don’t over schedule. It seems the number one stressor for children and their parents during the school year is trying to fit all of the responsibilities and activities into the day. Don’t over schedule your children in activities. Encourage your child to be apart of groups and sports, but be realistic about the time commitments and logistics. Leave space for family time and down time with friends.

Good luck in the upcoming school year. Next week I’ll address the kids art and how to keep it organized and under control. Make it  a great week!

Happy Organizing!

15 Minute Quick Organizing Fixes

One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated for any project – especially an organizing project – is to set a time limit. If you set out to organize your whole house chances are you’ll become overwhelmed before you even start (look at last week for more tips on this). However, if you set out to complete a 15 minute project then the chances of completing the project is much much higher.

Here is a list of 15 minute organizing projects that can make a big dent in your to do list:

  • empty your dishwasher
  • put in a load of laundry
  • make your bed
  • fold some clean clothes
  • put away your clean laundry
  • clean out a drawer
  • clean out your purse
  • clean out your wallet
  • dust one room
  • sweep the kitchen
  • balance your checkbook
  • pay a couple of bills
  • straighten up one room
  • file a stack of papers
  • reconcile your credit card statement
  • sew a missing button
  • make a grocery or shopping list
  • make a to-do list
  • plan your meals for the week
  • repair a ripped hem
  • gather up chore items to return (library books, videos, etc.)
  • clean expired items out of your medicine cabinet
  • clean out the fridge
  • check your desk for dead pens and markers
  • respond to a couple of emails
  • write a letter
  • do the dishes
  • clean out your makeup drawer
  • read and sort the mail
  • set out your clothes for the next day
  • make lunches for the next day
  • make a phone call
Small tasks really add up and you will surprise yourself with how much can get done in a 15 minute focused organizing effort!
Happy Organizing!

It’s all about getting started

When you’re facing a large project, such as organizing a closet… or the whole house, the hardest thing to do is start. I work with so many clients that tell me they know what they have to do, but they can’t find it in them to even get the project started.

The easiest way to tackle any project is to break it down into bite sized chunks. If you think about the project in it’s entirety you become bogged down with the size of it and the multiple steps to achieve it and most likely the project never gets done – or even started.

Here are a few tips for getting started:

1. Write down the ultimate goal at the top of a blank sheet of paper. ex. clean out the front hall closet

2. Write down each major step you will have to accomplish in order to achieve the project. ex. pull everything out of the closet, sort through items etc.

3. Stick to the plan. Even if it feels a little juvenile, go through the steps you have taken the time to write out. This will keep you on track and help you stay motivated.

Good luck with all of the projects on your to do list!

Happy organizing!